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Peak Oil

The Oil Depletion Protocol

James Cascio, WorldChanging
Whether the oil peak happens over the next few months or next few decades, it’s widely acknowledged that global conventional production of petroleum will see a sharp decline soon, with natural gas following thereafter. We know, in broad strokes, what needs to be done to keep that decline from turning into a global economic and political disaster, and the major recommendations — such as an aggressive shift to alternative energies and transportation technologies, widespread adoption of higher-efficiency building designs, greater reliance on organic/local/smart agriculture techniques, and the like — parallel what’s needed to forestall the worst effects of global warming-induced climate disruption.

So how do we do it?

Richard Heinberg has a fascinating proposal, one that could reduce the risk of oil wars and economic ruin. It’s simple to understand, and its logic is compelling. Heinberg, a professor at the New College of California and author of Powerdown — Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, calls his proposal the Oil Depletion Protocol, as it is a formalization of what is already happening worldwide: oil reserves are declining, and all too soon demand will overtake production.
(2 August 2005)
James Cascio comments on Heinberg’s latest MuseLetter, published on Energy Bulletin. Note that the Oil Depletion Protocol discussed by Heinberg actually originated with the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) and is also known as the “The Rimini Protocol” and “The Uppsala Protocol.”

Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century (Part 2 of 3)

Dmitry Orlov, From the Wilderness
Our thumbnail sketch of the two superpowers would not be complete without a comparison of some of the differences, which are no less glaring than the similarities.
(28 June 2005)
A modern day Gulliver’s Travels, in which our hero compares the US to the former Soviet Union, to see how each would do in the event of a collapse, the FSU’s collapse already having occurred. Suggested by Peak Energy (Australia).

EIA’s Cook Sees Stronger Oil Demand Than Data Show

Karen Matusic, Schlumberger
WASHINGTON – Oil market analysts would be wise not to read too much into data that appear to show demand from the world’s two largest consumers is stagnating, the U.S. Department of Energy’s top oil statistician said Monday. …
“Everyone agrees we will have slower demand growth this year after last year’s strong growth, but how does that stack up with supply?” Cook said in an interview. “Given the spotty data we have so far, if one looks at GDP growth and the close correlation it has to oil demand growth, one has to wonder how significant the slowdown in underlying demand growth may be.”
(2 August 2005)
Typically, no mention is made of depletion, the invisible component of ‘new’ demand. -LJ

Saudi Arabia and Oil – Simmons on CBC Radio

The Current, CBC
Elfstrom writes: CBC Radio, Canada’s national broadcaster, interviewed Mathew Simmons and others for 20 minutes on the in-depth news show The Current.

Listen to it from the program’s archives page for August 2 2005.
(2 August 2005)
Recommended by Elfstrom on a peakoil forum.

Saudi oil output may be past peak, says expert

Staff, Khaleej Times (UAE)
JEDDAH — A book by Houston investment banker Matt Simmons, ‘Twilight in the Desert’, says that Saudi Arabia’s oil production may soon decline. …
But in a recent visit to Houston’s Rice University, Abdullah Jumah, the chief of Saudi Aramco, dismissed the concerns expressed by Simmons and others. “There is absolutely no disagreement between our professionals and other oil and gas professionals pertaining to our reserves, and I think I will leave it at that,” he said. …
(31 July 2005)
‘Dundee’ who sent us this and lives and works in the UAE writes, “This is the first time I have seen reference to Matt Simmons book made in mainstream Arabian Gulf Media”.

Other Energy Issues

New energy probe may harm sea life

Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
US quest to find offshore oil and gas reserves raises concerns about ‘blasting’ marine animals.
Faced with its biggest energy challenge in more than 20 years, the United States is poised to look for offshore reserves of oil and natural gas as never before.

By using the latest techniques, government officials hope to update surveys more than two decades old and, perhaps, discover new pools of oil and gas hidden miles under the ocean floor. Such discoveries could boost US production and lessen reliance on foreign oil.

But not everyone is pleased. Many legislators fear that such surveys will boost political pressure to begin offshore drilling in areas where it has been banned for decades. Even without drilling, the new survey – which involves blasting the ocean floor with sound waves – could threaten marine life, environmentalists say.

“There is an increasing body of evidence indicating that the intense blasts of sounds from seismic air guns can injure, kill, and otherwise harm marine mammals and fish,” says Michael Jasny, senior policy consultant to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
(2 August 2005)

Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust

Amory B. Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
Private investors have flatly rejected nuclear power but enthusiastically bought its main supply-side competitors—decentralized cogeneration and renewables.
In a market economy, private investors are the ultimate arbiter of what energy technologies can compete and yield reliable profits, so to understand nuclear power’s prospects, just follow the money. Private investors have flatly rejected nuclear power but enthusiastically bought its main supply-side competitors—decentralized cogeneration and renewables. Worldwide, by the end of 2004, these supposedly inadequate alternatives (see graph) had more installed capacity than nuclear, produced 92% as much electricity, and were growing 5.9 times faster and accelerating, while nuclear was fading.

…Whenever nuclear power’s competitors (even just on the supply side) were allowed to compete fairly, they’ve far outpaced central stations. Just in 1982–85, California utilities acquired and or were firmly offered enough cost-effective savings and decentralized supplies to meet all demand with no central fossil-fueled or nuclear plants. (Alas, before the cheaper alternatives could displace all those plants—and thus avert the 2000 power crisis—state regulators, spooked by success, halted the bidding.)

Today’s nonnuclear technologies are far better and cheaper. They’re batting 1.000 in the more competitive and transparent processes that have swept most market economies’ electricity sectors and are emerging even in China and Russia. A few Stalinist economies like North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Belarus still offer ideal conditions for nuclear sales, but they won’t order much, and you wouldn’t want to live there.

No wonder the world’s universities have dissolved or reorganized nearly all of their departments of nuclear engineering, and none still attracts top students—another portent that the business will continue to fall, as Nobel physicist Hannes Alfvén warned, “into ever less competent hands,” buying ever less solution to any unresolved problem than in the days of the pioneers. Their intentions were worthy, their efforts immense, but their hopes of abundant and affordable nuclear energy failed in the marketplace.

(no date)
Suggested by Peak Energy (Seattle) and Peak Energy (Australia).

Politics and Economics

“Petroleum bourse to become reality”

Staff, IranMania quoting Iran Daily report.
LONDON – A senior stock market official has said that the Stock Exchange Council has agreed in principle to the establishment of the much-publicized oil bourse.
Heydar Mostakhdemin-Hosseini, who heads the board of directors of the council, told Fars news agency that the council, also tasked the Oil Ministry to formulate necessary mechanisms for the establishment of the oil bourse in line with the country’s general stock market policies, Iran Daily reported.
“The issue of setting up the oil bourse will be finalized once the Oil Ministry presents the outcome of its studies on the organization and articles of association of brokerage firms,” he said, adding that stock market software would be created in partnership with foreign parties.
Once established, petrochemicals, crude oil and oil and gas products will be traded at the petroleum exchange, known as oil bourse.
The oil exchange would strive to make Iran the main hub for oil deals in the region as most deals will be conducted via the Internet.

Iran announced in September its petroleum exchange will be operational by March 2006.
Experts from International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) have reportedly confirmed the feasibility of the project.
Experts say the petroleum exchange can help create further transparency in the Oil Ministry’s performance and help attract more foreign investments in national energy industries.
The proposal was first put forward in the beginning of the Third Development Plan (2000-2005) and became a national project in 2003. Relevant technical studies are still underway.
(27 July 2005)

Death of a king

Editors, The Guardian (Leader)
Economic self-interest is a powerful force, so it was no surprise that the clearest of reactions to yesterday’s news of the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia was a slight rise in the price of crude oil. The country that sits on one quarter of the world’s known oil reserves is always going to matter a lot to outsiders. And the death of a king, even one who had been incapacitated since a stroke in 1995, is an unsettling moment, more so when the monarchy is an absolute one: thus the emphasis, both from Riyadh and from foreign friends of the royal family such as Jonathan Aitken, once a big player in the highly lucrative British-Saudi arms trade, on continuity and stability as Crown Prince Abdullah takes over.
(2 August 2005)

Experts: U.S., China Have Much at Stake

Brad Foss, Associated Press via Washington Post

WASHINGTON — In the end, CNOOC Ltd., China’s third-largest oil company, blamed politics for thwarting its attempted buyout of Unocal Corp.

But if legislators who opposed CNOOC’s efforts were correct that America is more secure because of CNOOC’s failure, it remains to be seen what else the U.S. may have gained _ or lost _ in its relationship with China.

CNOOC, whose parent company is controlled by the Chinese government, gave no indication of how relations between Beijing and Washington will be affected by what it described in a press release as the “regrettable and unjustified” political response to its attempt to acquire Unocal. Instead, the Hong Kong-based company stuck to the rhetoric of financial markets, saying it would keep hunting for opportunities _ “with companies and countries” _ that benefit its shareholders.

Experts on China, trade and energy said the United States and China have too much at stake in their relationship to let it be soured by CNOOC’s failed bid for Unocal. But they said the U.S. must be more careful about the potential unintended consequences of its actions as it becomes more interdependent and competitive with China in the years ahead, grappling with issues like their huge trade imbalance and their rising thirst for global energy supplies.
(2 August 2005)

US Still Too Reliant on Middle East Oil

Agence France Presse via Common Dreams
Given how much political steam it has generated, experts say that President George W. Bush’s flagship energy policy will do little to address America’s reliance on foreign oil or its gas-guzzling excess.

A hefty 1,724-page energy bill now awaits Bush’s signature after going through Congress last week to end one of the most drawn-out political dramas of his four years in office.
(1 August 2005)

If You Could Have Written the Energy Bill…

Jerry Kay, ENN
…Many people I talk with, from a variety of perspectives, seem to agree that the energy bill will not decrease our dependency on foreign oil. Furthermore, any significant changes in our energy portfolio will not occur for a decade or so.

Probably the only vision in the newly-passed legislation is to increase daylight savings time by a month. What’s next? A national bedtime policy mandating that we all turn in at sundown, shutting off all lights, TVs, and computers? At least that would actually cut energy consumption.

ENN readers (you) have always been intelligent, well-read, interesting folks. So, I ask you this: If you could have written our national energy legislation what would you have included? Please send me your thoughts, with one caveat: The bill is some 1,700 pages long and I must ask you to be much more concise than that!
(2 August 2005)